A new law requiring public pools to have chair lifts to make them accessible was supposed to go into effect this week but has been delayed after confusion and protest from groups who would be required make the changes.
The Republican party calls this regulation “unwieldy” and as someone who has had to sit on the sidelines while others got to go swimming, I’d have to say there must not be any disabled Republicans. It sucks going along somewhere with friends then finding out you can’t participate.
In my local area there is a single pool lift for several pools. You literally have to make an appointment to insure the lift will be at the pool when you want to swim. This is ridiculous to me. It means no spontaneous swimming plans and could mean that someone is still left out when the lift is not available at the pool they want to swim at.
Yes, lifts are expensive. But constructing a pool itself is expensive as well. If a municipality, hotel, or other organization can afford to construct or maintain a pool then they can afford the additional lift. There are also tax credits available for organizations to install things like this.
The president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Marlene Colucci, seems to be grasping at straws in trying to get out of this regulation. She complained that it’s expensive to install electrical power for these lifts and even went so far as to say that chair lifts are a “easy attractive nuisance” for children and could cause injury if kids play on it. First of all there are water-powered lifts that can be powered by any water hose and second, kids can be injured tripping on their own feet.
This is a simple matter of equal access to amenities that disabled people pay for in their hotel fees or property taxes, just like everyone else.
It’s also a public health issue. Water-based exercise like swimming or aquatherapy is incredibly valuable for disabled people who cannot physically walk. Limiting the ability for individuals to participate in this sort of activity translates to higher health care costs and probably many other hidden financial expenses.
I really hope this does become an enforced law. It would be very nice to know that wherever I go and want to swim, I can.